An excerpt from “Would You Do That To Your Mother?” submitted with the permission of Jeanne Bliss and Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. To learn more about Jeanne, you can visit her website, CustomerBliss.
1. Picture Your Mom
Our childhood. Mom’s lessons. And our business life.
They share freely. They have our back. They are there, in good times and bad. They always have our best interest in mind. They are brave.
This describes our moms.
It also describes companies that follow her lead in how they grow their businesses.
The lessons we learned as kids stick with us. And often they have our mom’s face all over them. Her guidance, her rules, and her sayings are still in our heads. You probably grew up that way too, with a simple, clear understanding of what to do and what not to do.
We were taught to share, trust each other, play nice in the sandbox, and treat others like we’d want to be treated. Those lessons remain some of the best advice we’ve ever been given.
They also remain some of our most sound advice for how to behave in business.
Companies that “Make Mom Proud” grow by living those lessons. They remove practices that might curb the extension of care, or limit employees to act in good conscience. They work to remove boundaries and pressures that prohibit customer-driven decision making. Their actions honor the human at the end of their decisions, establish a balanced relationship with customers and partners, and put employees in positions to act at work like they’d act at home. Like they were raised.
I grew up Italian, the third of seven kids. We lived a loud and crazy life. But we had a set of behaviors that guided us, which we learned by watching our parents. Their actions, more than words, showed us the path to follow. And their character was on display in how they acted.
The women in my life were particularly animated. My mom, Lydia, would sew until all hours of the night, fashioning custom-made Halloween costumes for each of us, and teeny tiny Barbie doll dresses for my sisters and me. My dad’s mom, Ermalinda, rarely sat down for a meal she had prepared. Hovering around the perimeter of the table, she would carry large plates of food, spooning it onto our plates whether we wanted it or not, exclaiming “Mangia! Mangia!” (“Eat! Eat!”).
And my mom’s mom, Virginia, would roll out dough every Christ-mas to make homemade ravioli. Never satisfied unless they were perfect for us, she would throw out mounds of dough she had rolled out but deemed imperfect, even when it meant putting in hours to begin again. Neither grandma let us leave their homes without handing each of us a bag of groceries, scooping whatever food they had in their pantry for us to take home. They were selfless. They were nourishing. They were perfectionists. They thought of us first.
These are the behaviors that have become the standard for me, and for most of us, for how to act in our lives. We strive to apply the lessons we learned as kids to the way we behave at work. As both employees and customers, we gravitate to companies that create environments to encourage and celebrate these behaviors. These are the make-mom– proud companies we celebrate and learn from in this little book.
As we learn about their paths, it’s important to note that each of the make-mom-proud companies did not achieve this state overnight. It took one action, then another, and then another to give people permission and examples to model. That’s why, in this book, we offer a simple way to help prompt these actions: a lens to guide your company decisions, by thinking of one person in particular at the end of each of them—your mom.
Imagine Mom as your customer.
Within this book, I’m ever so gently delivering a bit of tough love wrapped in velvet to ask you to think about what you do and how you do it—from the perspective of your mother.
I encourage you to ask yourself when you act, speak, respond, or decide, “What would Mom have to say about this?” “Would we do this thing we are contemplating, to her?”
So take a minute. Picture your mom. What’s she doing? Picture her picking up the phone to call an 800 number. Then picture her waiting. Picture the frustration of the wait and then her joy as someone connects. And then picture her face as she’s asked to repeat all the numbers and facts that she punched in before waiting on hold. Picture her life at the auto dealership. Or walking into a retail store. Picture her nervously waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Picture her trying to figure out how to program her phone.
Of course, it’s not that simple. It’s not the asking of the question “Would we do that to our mother?” that elevates behavior and companies. Conditions must be right for the asking. Leaders must encourage and establish a safe environment where asking that question is celebrated and rewarded. People must be encouraged and enabled to act—by imagining someone they love at the end of decisions.
When asking this question is genuinely enabled, it can benefit every part of your organization. For individuals on the front line, this “Mom lens” can help recalibrate personal responses with customers. Inside the organization and with teams, it prompts collaboration to improve experiences. For leaders, it can be a litmus test to determine actions that the company will, or will not, take to grow.
We need to take how we are treating customers personally. This is what prompts actions that elevate a company and its people. Thinking of our moms at the end of our decisions helps to get us there. That’s why I suggest that you imagine her in moments when you’re making decisions or taking personal actions. The image of her, of what she’s meant to you and what you’ve learned from her, can be a powerful and instant reality check. It can make us pause.
What imagining Mom, and this book, will do for you.
This book is assembled for you to use inside of your company to get traction on the things that impact and matter in relationships with customers and employees. It is packaged to help you advance your work to “Make Mom Proud.” Each of the case studies is organized as a unit for your use inside your organization. You can use them as daily huddles in meetings with leaders or as the content for workshops where you dig deeper.
Each of the four main chapters captures a different aspect of our customer experiences. “Be the Person I Raised You to Be” (chapter 2) addresses the employee experience and the opportunity to elevate and inspire employees’ work. “Don’t Make Me Feed You Soap!” (chapter 3) concentrates on common issues that define each of our lives as customers and celebrates companies that simplify or extinguish them. “Put Others Before Yourself” (chapter 4) showcases the imperative to redefine what companies offer and how they deliver, starting with customer goals and how they live their lives. “Take the High Road” (chapter 5) celebrates the character and values that live within make-mom-proud companies, and how they overturn or resist traditional business practices to earn goodness-driven growth.
You’ll learn actions these companies take to improve, of course. But most important, you’ll learn “how” they were able to get traction. I’ll share the “inside of their clock” to showcase their decisions and actions and to provide you with decisions you can make to earn the right to growth by improving employee and customer lives. Prodding questions after each case study ask you to look at your company through the “Mom lens” so that you can assess where you are now.
The thirty-two case studies provide you with a mini tool kit to use inside your organization. Each is built with lessons that are easily consumable, broken into individual learning modules, and immediately available to you. Chapter 6, “Stop the Shenanigans!,” summarizes all of the “Mom lens” challenges as a quiz or assessment, to determine where you are today on your journey.
I encourage you to join our movement to market hope to customers and encouragement to each other, that improving customer experiences is achievable, and that progress is being made. A dedicated website (http://www.make-mom-proud) is now live, where you can honor your mom and be recognized for your progress. Post a picture of your mom and a summary of what you’ve done to improve customer and employee experiences (more about this later), so that we can learn your advances. We will use the hashtag #MakeMomProud on social media to broadcast your efforts.
This is a celebration book and a “tell it like it is” book, because we need both. There are many, many companies that are overturning and redesigning “frustrated mom moments” to create “Make Mom Proud” moments all around the world. In the thirty-two case studies, and numerous anecdotes throughout this book, we celebrate actions that companies have taken to move from “everyday” behavior to acts that elevate a company and its people.
In addition to celebrating these great moments, I’ll be “noodging” you, as my Italian grandmas would say, to make change where warranted. As friends, we’ll look at some moments where we know we can do better: those “you can’t make this stuff up” times in customers’
lives when we make it hard on them, though not intentionally. The plain fact of the matter is that sometimes our lives as customers are not as easy as they’re cracked up to be.
To describe these peccadilloes in our businesses, I’ve turned to humor as shorthand to convey those moments—again, as a friend and as someone living this stuff the same as you are. The custom-created comics smattered across these pages in one brief snippet are intended to capture the customer perspective. And I’ll be offering them to you as teaching tools you can access on my website customerbliss.com if you find, as I do, that humor can be both a salve and a catalyst for recognizing an opportunity and driving change.
Use this book to tell the story of your customers’ lives. Then take actions to “Make Mom Proud.”
This book leads us back to those memories of our childhood, of how we were reared, to simplify how we make decisions in business. It’s the simplicity of those childhood lessons that made them easy to follow.